Thursday, January 8, 2009

Not Serious

One of the complaints of the right wing has been that the so-called liberal media doesn’t take their conservative news sites and their reporters seriously. Apparently they’re sincere in their belief, but when you see a story like this, it explains it all.

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Joe The Plumber is putting down his wrenches and picking up a reporter’s notebook.

The Ohio man who became a household name during the presidential campaign says he is heading to Israel as a war correspondent for the conservative Web site pjtv.com.

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher (WUR’-zuhl-bah-kur) says he’ll spend 10 days covering the fighting.

He tells WNWO-TV in Toledo that he wants to let Israel’s “‘Average Joes’ share their story.”

Wurzelbacher gained attention during the final weeks of the campaign when he asked Barack Obama about his tax plan.

He later joined Republican John McCain on the campaign trail. At one stop, he agreed with a McCain supporter who asked if he believed a vote for Obama was a vote for the death of Israel.

The problem isn’t that the rest of the journalistic world doesn’t take the right wing media outlets like Fox News or the Washington Times seriously; it’s that they don’t take reporting seriously. Or if they do, they don’t understand one of the fundamentals of journalism, and that’s to report the news through people that have a basic understanding of both journalism and the topic they’re covering. In fact, one of the selling points for pjtv.com was that Mr. Wurzelbacher doesn’t have a degree in journalism; “Hemingway didn’t have one.” But the first requirement of the right wing isn’t competency, it’s ideology. Get the story, but be sure to get it right.

Sending Joe the Plumber to Gaza to cover the story for the “average Joe” is not just ridiculous on its face, it pretty neatly explains why even conservatives don’t take such stunts seriously. What’s worse is that it trivializes this dangerous conflict in the Middle East and demonstrates quite clearly how little the right-wing media understands the story they’re supposed to be covering, the duty they have to report on it, and not turn themselves into the story.